Where the Magic Happens

Success in business is an inside job

One of the most important aspects of my work as a journalist and copywriter is doing research. You’ve got to get up to speed before you can write anything worth reading about a topic, a person, or a business. One of the reasons I chose this career is that it allows me to grow my mind and constantly learn. I’m naturally curious. I’m an information junkie.

This week, I wrote an article for the Shared Workspaces blog that dealt with procrastination. While researching the psychology of procrastination, there was one eyeopener after another.

I discovered that there are different types of procrastinators and the procrastination style that fitted my own behaviour stood out by a mile. I’ve always been convinced that I do my best work last minute. I love deadlines and get a buzz when time is of the essence.

Now I realise that this is risky business.

What I also learned is that procrastination isn’t laziness. It’s self-sabotage.

In May 2020, just after the first coronavirus lockdown here in New Zealand, I lost my mojo. I felt deflated, was doubting myself, and my energy levels were at an all-time low. My confidence as a business owner had taken a serious hit, and I didn’t quite know what to do next.

As good things tend to come your way when you need it the most, I reconnected with business coach Douwe Hoogstra from Love Your Business.

I had done some work with Douwe and his business partner Phil Holland previously, writing copy for their clients, and he reached out after I mentioned something on social media about having it tough. He suggested I’d do some coaching with him to get things back on track.  

The importance of mindset

I expected we’d talk about business planning, SWOT analyses, growth strategies, financials, sales narrative, and to design a game plan to reach my goals, but all that came much later. It started with identifying my self-sabotaging behaviours, and the things that were holding me back. I was introduced to something they call the Don’t be a Dick model.  

The journey started with mindset, and I had to dig deep.

Be prepared to be uncomfortable

For reasons I didn’t quite understand at first but now see clearly, there were some behaviours that sabotaged my success. I now recognise the things that are holding me back, and I’ve started to approach them differently.

To give you an example, I’m not always fully comfortable talking business with people on the phone. I’m not exactly an introvert but I do know I’m much better at writing than talking. In the past, around 80% of my contact with clients was via email. Doing phone interviews for stories were not problem but when talking business, I had dial-fright!

My self-sabotage triggers:

People think I have a funny accent.
What if my call is inconvenient?
Will they think I am pushy or salesy?  
What if I can’t clearly get the words out?
I’ll probably say something daft…

Only recently I realised that although all this emailing may work for me, it’s not the same for everyone else. People buy from people, and they want to know who you are as a person before they do business with you. No matter how clever or persuasive your writing is, you simply don’t get that from an email.

Proposals and quotes are still written out in detail, but I no longer just send them off and wait. I talk my clients through it, answer their questions, and explain how working with Sweet Orange can benefit them. There are now several touch points, and plenty of actual conversations.

As a result, I get a yes from them much faster, there’s less room for unanswered questions and misunderstandings, and things get done much more efficiently.

Embracing video

Another fear I had was video, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. I’m amazed by all those people who confidently talk on camera, but I’d rather stay behind the scenes. I did a video for Facebook a few years ago with a 2-minute introduction. Although my teenagers said it was cringe, it was more effective than any print advertising or email campaign I’d ever done. Still… I remained camera shy.

My self-sabotage triggers:

I hate the sound of my own voice.
I don’t like looking at myself.
Why would people bother watching it?
I’m not young, hot, or exciting.
As my kids say, it’s cringe…

When you just do it and welcome the feedback you get from people (“that was great but next time you should put a bit of lippy on”), recording a video is not that scary. I’ve since done a video interview with Tauranga Libraries about life in lockdown, and it was surprisingly well received. There are also 3 promo videos made for my social channels, and I happily do Zoom calls now several times a week.

Be optimistic but realistic.

Douwe became my uncompromising friend and after a while I became my assertive self again. I could feel and project confidence every day, in every interaction as I now had the right tools, strategies, and support.

I learned that as soon as you become aware of your self-sabotage habits, procrastination included, you can begin to break the cycle. It wasn’t easy, but everything just fell into place from there on.

My approach became more positive, my business grew more profitable, and my workflow and planning became less hectic. The biggest win of all was that it didn’t just have a positive effect on me, but also on everyone around me.

When you’re starting or building your own business, your inner critic will rise to the surface many times and you’ve got to be brave enough to face it. That little voice in your head that says “You’re not good enough” will be there each time you put yourself and your work into the public domain.

When you learn where this comes from and understand how to tackle it, you’re on your way to great success. Optimism, and the confidence that comes with it, are essential for the mindset and motivation you need to reach your goals.

Whether you work with a coach or not, that is crucial.

A coach doesn’t do the work for you. You’ll have to do it yourself. What they do is hold you accountable, check in with you, and offer expertise and guidance to keep you on track.

To achieve your goals in business, you’ve got the be prepared for setbacks and work on your mindset constantly. Do what it takes to develop a strong mind, keep up your motivation, and maintain that unshakeable belief in yourself, your skills, and your abilities.

Learn how to manage your fears and discomfort, and it’s okay to find someone to help you with that.

I did that with Douwe, and it’s made a world of difference (I am forever grateful). I now know that a positive mindset is critical to my business success, and I am ready for the next phase of this incredible journey.  

~ by Martine Pierhagen, businesswoman, copywriter, relentless optimist, and founder of Sweet Orange Ltd.  

~ with huge thanks to the amazing photographers from around the world that generously upload their work for free sharing on unsplash.com

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2 Comments

  1. Melanie Wadham

    Awesome read, just what I needed to hear today. Thank you for your courage to face yourself and your self sabotaging behaviours to look them in the eye and say “ I’m so much more than these”

    Reply
    • jade meiklejohn

      Thanks for the push on getting into good habits. Quality Sleep and Exercise is what helps me most. Speaking of bad habits…
      In the word HABIT once you delete the H you’re still left with ABIT. Drop the B and IT is still there. It’s taking the I out of IT that you’ve broken the habit ! For me this means breaking the bad habits I’ve let creep on will take about three times of replacing with the GOOD habit

      Reply

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